A Spin Around Nîmes

You might have heard that I moved to Nîmes, or more likely you didn’t even know where I lived in the first place! Well, nevertheless we are finally installed in our new, quiet apartment just outside the centre historique, and loving it, I might add. If I choose to believe in it, there might be a bit of fate involved in our move here. Nîmes was our first exposure to the south of France, after taking the train from Cognac with our bikes all those years ago on our first cycling trip in France. I clearly recall the immediate change in just about everything. The dry heat, the pastel-painted buildings, the blue, blue sky….and a few days later, the intense sights and smells of sunflowers and lavender.

If I was not a believer in fate (I’m on the fence on this one at the moment), I’d just know that the move was due to the talent in the family – namely Shoko. She was accepted at the Ecole des Beaux Arts here…so here we are! And here’s a little tour of the old center that I took on the bike today.

First up, Les Arenes, one of several Roman amphitheaters to be found in the south of France, but without a doubt, the best preserved. When not hosting concerts and fake gladiators it is used for bullfights (the kind where the bulls don’t make it back out, I’m afraid…). Not my ‘tasse de thé’, but if you’re interested in such things (or getting shitfaced, as seems to be what happens mostly), a Feria is being held here next week.

Hemingway used to drink his café here.

Just behind Les Arenes is a shady pedestrian street with these lovely-looking cafes alongside.

Now, entering the old town (called Ecusson, just like Montpellier, btw). You see plenty of palm trees in Nîmes…

…and I seem to remember reading somewhere that one reason is because of the coat of arms of the city.

Nîmes was a Roman town and Julius Caesar rewarded his military veterans plots of land here. These guys fought for JC in Africa, hence the crocodile chained to the palm tree – a symbol of their submission to Rome, I think. Correct me if I’m wrong. I often am. This is a fountain in the same square.

Moving on…a few street scenes from the old town.

Next, the erroneously-named Maison Carrée (it certainly is not square), which I’ll just give you glimpses of, since it is being renovated at the moment. This Roman temple is, according to what I have read at least, the best preserved structure of its kind in the world. So there!

OK, now we exit Ecusson and turn left. This is the Quay de la Fontaine, a waterway that ends (or begins) in the very lovely Jardin de la Fontaine, just a few hundred meters up.

Then you see these guys…or others like them. Petanque is a favored pastime of men of a certain age or employment status down here. What I like about this game is the different techniques you can find for what amounts to throwing a big, heavy ball around.

And my personal favorite – the tippy-toe Michael Jackson toss!

Alright, back to the park – one of the oldest public parks in Europe, incidentally, and still one of the most ‘remarkable’, according to French Wiki, at least.

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